Savage, soaking Hurricane Florence nears Carolina coast

At least one million people told to evacuate from three states as Hurricane Florence looms

At least one million people told to evacuate from three states as Hurricane Florence looms

The National Weather Service in Wilmington, North Carolina - near where Florence is expected to make landfall on Thursday - is already calling it "the storm of a lifetime".

The National Hurricane Centre said it was a potentially catastrophic Category-4 storm, but was expected to keep drawing energy from the warm water and intensify to near Category 5, which means winds of 157 miles per hour or higher.

It will strike with torrential rains, powerful winds and potentially devastating flooding.

National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham warned that Florence is expected to linger once onshore, downing trees, knocking out electricity and causing widespread flooding.

Panovich: Right now it looks like landfall is going to occur sometime early Friday morning between, I would say, 4 a.m. and probably about 8 a.m., but it might actually never make it all the way in.

For many of those under evacuation orders, getting out of harm's way has proved difficult, as airlines cancelled flights and motorists had a hard time finding gas.

"We will experience power outages, we will have infrastructure damaged, there will be homes damaged, and there will be debris on the roads", said Jeff Byard, an official from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Florence catapulted from a Category 2 to a Category 4 hurricane over the span of several hours.

These Are the Markets in Hurricane Florence's Path
Panovich forecasts the storm will reach close to Category 4 status with the potential of 140 miles per hour winds. Hurricane to tropical-storm-force winds could extend inland depending on the storm's exact track.

Hurricane Florence is set to make landfall along the U.S. East Coast, bringing with it heavy rains and battering winds.

The governors of Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina and SC have also declared a state of emergency for their states in preparation for Florence's arrival.

Best-case scenario: 1-3 inches between Friday night and Sunday Worst-case scenario: 8-10 inches, maybe more in some areas, between Friday afternoon and Monday Most likely: 4-6 inches between Friday night and Sunday night.

"This storm is going to be a direct hit".

Florence, it said, will bring "life-threatening storm surge and rainfall to portions of the Carolinas and mid-Atlantic". The storm is now about 950 miles from the Carolina coast line, but moving in that direction at about 15 mph.

He warned residents to take precautions "because once this storm is upon us, we're not going to be able to send emergency personnel out to rescue you". Sharp added that some areas could see flooding where he hasn't flooded before.

Trojniar said she and her husband were packing up belongings and plan to stack sandbags around their single-floor home in Wilmington's eerily named Landfall neighborhood near the ocean before checking into a hotel to ride out the storm, with plenty of wine. Owing to North Carolina's unique coastal geography, and with the extra nudge from the past 30 years of sea-level rise, Florence's surge could top 20 feet.

Up to 1.7 million people have been ordered to evacuate across South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. Now a Category 4 storm, it's possible that it could strengthen even more as it moves swiftly through the Atlantic Ocean. As it turns into southern SC.

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